Leaving Me, Loving You
Reviewed by YTSL
I know it’s rather unfair. At the same
time, I’m sure that I’m not the only fan of Hong Kong cinema out there
who finds it next to impossible to not think of Faye Wong’s first movie
whenever (s)he views a film that stars the singer-actress whose appearances
on celluloid continue to be on the sporadic side. So here’s getting
the main question -- for those of like mind who are reading this review
-- out of the way by stating that: To my mind, this 2004 Valentine offering
in which Faye plays a professional party-planner, and Leon Lai (who also
co-produced) plays a roving doctor, is no where close to “Chungking Express”
in quality; but comparisons with the Wong Kar Wai work still don’t appear
entirely inappropriate or irrelevant since there most definitely were aspects
of this Wilson Yip helmed film which brought to mind certain attributes
possessed by that magical as well as whimsical 1994 effort.
Chief among these for me is LEAVING ME, LOVING
YOU’s looking to serve as much as a visual promoter of the city in which
the movie is set as “Chungking Express” seems to have been for Hong Kong.
For the record, and if the reactions of the Hong Kong Tourist Association
folks I spoke to are a good gauge, Wong Kar Wai’s most optimistic offering
may well be the film that makes people want to go visit the urban space
which is home to Chungking Mansions, the Mid-Levels travelator, the Midnight
Express and also a rendezvous spot named California post viewing it.
Even if not in quite the same way, I nonetheless do get the distinct sense
that more than one individual might be filled with an urge to head over
to Shanghai ASAP post viewing this Poon Yiu Ming lensed romance that makes
Mainland China’s most cosmopolitan city -- rather than just its two Mainland
Chinese leads -- look incredibly attractive.
Something else that came to the fore early on
is it being so that, like with at least one section of the HKFA Best Picture
winner in which Faye Wong figured, many portions of LEAVING ME, LOVING
YOU have a distinctly music video “feel” to them. Perhaps this is
a function of Faye Wong and Leon Lai having appeared in far more music
videos than movies. However, I also do reckon that it is a reflection
on how whole portions of the Mark Lui scored production are so music saturated,
lacking in dialogue and reliant on musical notes together with quick-fix
montages to convey moods. Additionally, there’s this nagging feeling
I have that this Category I offering, at whose center is on a man and a
woman who may love each other yet not be sufficiently compatible, had to
be padded out with such as repeat renditions of “Moon River” -- along with
pregnant pauses as well as multiple mundane scenes that were geared towards
establishing that Leon and Faye are playing “regular folks” here -- due
to it actually not having all that much of a story.
For all intensive purposes, LEAVING ME, LOVING
YOU’s main storyline can be easily enough described as follows: Dr. Chow
(Leon Lai at his most winsome plus winning) and Siu Yuet (the physically
striking Faye Wong) break up, then find their paths crossing once more
when a wealthy elder who she was assigned by his son to plan a birthday
party for turns out to have her ex-boyfriend as his medical adviser cum
personal physician. Initially, the two find themselves at logger
heads. This is due in no small part to the good doctor’s worries
that the old gentleman’s heart might not be able to take the big surprise
that is an integral part of Siu Yuet’s plan for the fragile senior causing
her client to hesitate to go ahead with the undoubtedly expensive as well
as extravagant display that she had arranged.
Since it is not a situation that the tender-hearted
medico had necessarily wished for, and not least because he remains very
much in love with Siu Yuet (even while she appears intent on forging a
new and more independent path with little room for him in it), he tries
to make amends by doing such as supplying the almost always stylishly attired
femme with information that she might be able to use to furnish the old
gentlemen with the birthday surprise that he really would love to have.
Further proof of Dr. Chow’s continuing to be enamored by Siu Yuet comes
in the form of his paying scant attention to the attempts at being friendly
of a cute traffic cop (played by Jiang Yihong, an actress who I think bears
a marked resemblance to a young(er) Maggie Cheung). Additionally,
in a move which -- once more -- brought to mind a certain Jet Tone production,
albeit with a role reversal twist involved here, the lovesick fellow goes
about engaging in what, outside of idealistic romantic works, would be
looked upon as the kind of “stalking” behavior that could land its perpetuator
in court and even jail...
My rating for this film (...with the warning
that I happen to like Leon Lai): 6.